SALISBURY, MD---While federal statues are striving to make sure there is no child left behind in the classroom, Salisbury University is ensuring local children are not left behind in the gym, either.
Under the direction of Dr. Dean Ravizza, faculty in SU’s Health, Physical Education and Human Performance Department, SU students are teaming with local public schools to provide adaptive physical education programs for students with cognitive and physical disabilities.
“What started out as just an in-house field component has really blossomed into a four-week program in physical education,” said Ravizza.
Local schools participating in the program include Pinehurst Elementary, Wicomico Middle and Wicomico High. Students come to the SU campus one day each week of the program.
This not only allows SU students to practice teaching students with disabilities, but also offers a chance for the public school students to gain experiences outside the traditional classroom.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to come in and learn,” said Ravizza. “They get to leave their school environment for awhile and come into a whole new environment.”
Teachers, including adapted physical educators, special education teachers, and teaching assistants, accompany the children during their days at SU. Each child is assigned an SU student, who travels with them through a series of physical fitness activity stations in Maggs Gym. Two additional SU students staff each activity station, allowing students to have multiple hands-on experiences teaching children with disabilities.
“The basic idea is bridging the theoretical with the practical,” said Ravizza. “I want the [SU] students to walk away from the experience saying not only ‘I can do this,’ but ‘I want to do this.’”
Some 50 children are currently involved in the program, which, for several, includes training for track and field events held as part of the Special Olympics. Ravizza would like to expand the program to include more community-based activities in the future.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.